Today is Zagat Day in New York, folks. The 2008 book is in bookstores, on newsstands and, via messenger, atop the desk of every food writer in town this morning. Most of the usual suspects have filed stories on the new guide and you'll find links to those items just below.
Briefly, here's our take. First of all, Zagat is still hugely important. Tourists and many locals do use it to make eating out choices. The rest (of us) use it as a directory, and even in that capacity we pay attention to the rankings, despite whatever problems might exist in the Zagat voting process.
The biggest winner of all is Gordon Ramsay, which wins top newcomer honors (food rating: 25). This is going to fill the reservations book in a way the place hasn't seen since opening. Other major victories include, Union Square Cafe (26) reclaiming the one-slot in the Most Popular Category and Balthazar (23) getting itself back into the top ten, raking 10 overall in popularity. On the food side, Sushi Seki (27) and Robuchon (27) both crack the top ten, the first of which skyrockets from 18th place on the list the second, makes its debut. (Robuchon is listed in the Ls, by the way, right after La Taza de Oro, and not under A or R. This is going to leave a mark.) A few other data points: 234 restaurants opened this year, according to Zagat, while 88 closed. Last year it was 222 openings and 102 closures. The average tip in New York is 19.0% and we all eat out an average of 3.3 times a week.
Finally, this is the first New York book to be released as part of Zagat's complete redesign, and we'll say this new book is quite snazzy. Junkies will quite enjoy the special page-marking stickers supplied in the front of the book, and for those that use it as a directory, new coloring and slight font tweaks have increased the readability of the guide by a margin.
· Zagat Releases 29th Annual NYC Restaurant Guide [PR Newswire]
· It's Guide Book Season [NYT]
· Zagat Guide is Released [NYS]
· Zagat 2008 Smiles on Daniel, Gordon Ramsay, Others [Cutlets]
· Zagat 2008 Survey [Zagat.com]